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Legend's Corner - Jan Howard - February 2008

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Jan Howard

Jan Howard

Sherry Cook

Although country music fans know her as Jan Howard, when she was born, her name was Lula Grace Johnson. Jan came into this world on March 13, 1930 in West Plains, Missouri. No one had a clue what she would accomplish later in life.

Jan was the eighth of eleven children, and times were tough as a child. Growing up poor on a farm, she had no desire to be a country music entertainer. No one knew she could really sing. She had the normal life of any child growing up in that time period. Helping out on the farm was only natural. By the time Jan was fifteen, she was married. She had three sons by the time she was twenty.

Once Jan divorced from her second husband, she decided she would try to get a fresh start by heading west to Los Angeles. Once there she took on a job as a waitress and a secretary. About a month after moving, Jan attended a wedding where one of the guests was an unknown, aspiring country music singer and songwriter named Harlan Howard. As soon as they met, they hit the floor running.

After knowing each other for a month, Jan and Harlan headed for Las Vegas and were married. At this point, Harlan was writing songs and performing anywhere that would hear him play. One night as Jan was washing dishes, Harlan walked in and heard her singing. He liked her voice so much that he asked her to record some demo songs.

After tons of begging, Harlan finally convinced Jan to record a demo of a song he had written called "Mommy For A Day." This later was recorded by Kitty Wells and eventually became a hit. Jan went on to record demos for Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter, Buck Owens, and Ned Miller. She recorded the original demo for "I Fall To Pieces" and the female verses for "Daddy Sang Bass" that went on to become a hit for Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

By 1960, Jan had released "The One You Slip Around With," which became her first top ten hit. During the first part of her career in country music, Jan struggled with many problems. She was extremely shy and suffered from issues that occurred when she was younger. Jan often felt like she wasn't up to the high expectations of the Grand Ole Opry female acts. In 1960, she was awarded Billboard Magazine's Most Promising Country Female Award. In 1963, Jan had a top 40 hit with "I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again." In 1966, Jan recorded her two biggest hits, "Evil On Your Mind" and "Bad Seed." By 1968, her marriage with Harlan Howard had come to an end. This was the first time in her life she had to sing for a living. From 1965 to 1973, Jan teamed up with Bill Anderson. They recorded "For Loving You" which shot straight up to number one.

Jan became a member of the Grand Ole Opry on March 27, 1971. In 1987, she became a best selling author of her book Sunshine and Shadow. Jan remains an active member of the country music world and still performs as one of the Grand Ladies Of The Grand Ole Opry.

Top Songs:

  • The One You Slip Around With
  • I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again
  • What Makes A Man Wander
  • I Know You're Married (But I Still Love You) (With Bill Anderson)
  • Evil On Your Mind
  • Bad Seed
  • Roll Over And Play Dead
  • For Loving You (With Bill Anderson)
  • Count Your Blessings, Woman
  • My Son
  • We Had All The Good Things Going
  • Rock Me Back To Little Rock
  • Someday We'll Be Together (With Bill Anderson)
  • Baby Without you
  • Dis-Satisfied (With Bill Anderson)
  • To Love A Rolling Stone

Album Recommendations:

  • Compare Prices Sunshine and Shadow - Autobiography
  • Compare Prices Jan Howard - Stars Of The Grand Ole Opry
  • Compare Prices The Very Best Of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard

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